“Toy Story 4” Early Press Day: Focus on Details and Environments

A while back, Disney-Pixar invited AllEars.net to Pixar Studios to take an early look at the latest addition to their evergreen series, “Toy Story 4.”

Continuing on with our early press day that we wrote about here, here, and here, the next panel was “It’s All In The Details.”

(Pictured): L-R Craig Foster (Graphics Art Director), Yaa-Lirng Tu (Sets Shading Lead), Alex Marino (Shading Technical Director) present “It’s All in the Details” to press on April 3, 2019. Photo by Marc Flores. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Careful attention to detail was important for “Toy Story 4” for a number of reasons: It helps pull viewers into the different viewpoint toys have of the world; it allows the sets to help move along the story in a non-verbal manner; and it gives the audience a certain degree of comfort and recognition that makes it easier for them to embark on the adventure with the characters.

The Carnival is one of the two big set pieces of the film, along with the Antique Shop. Qualities from real-life carnivals that the animators strove to put into the film were both the flashy colors and lights that draw guests in, and the shabby, utilitarian show underpinnings.

IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS – Artists created detailed sets in Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” because their main characters are toys—details are important as they showcase the small size of the toys and their unique world perspective. In these images set in a carnival game booth, artists and technicians were able to illustrate the mobile nature of carnival booths, adding details like slight bends and welding detail in the metal grid near Buzz Lightyear. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

In contrast, the Antique Store needed to fit the story dynamic as a place where Woody feels lost and scared — it is a place that is old and antithetical to the playful life a toy desires. One of the ways they cued viewers into the age and neglect implied by the setting is by layering dust onto scenes in various degrees of severity.  [Ed. note: My house is the one on the left.]

DETAILS, DETAILS – In these images set in Second Chance Antiques, artists and technicians added a layer of dust to sell the setting. They were able to dial up or dial down the dust to best serve the needs of a given scene. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

As far as the characters were concerned, microscratches and ceramic crazing were designed to show up under some lighting to demonstrate the toys’ age and the wear and tear they’ve suffered through the years.

Character Shading Technical Director Alex Marino during the Toy Story 4 Long Lead Press Day as seen on April 4, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. Photo by Marc Flores. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Signs, logos and labels are created to both make each setting unique and distinct from one another, but to help further the characters’ journeys. As part of Woody’s journey, areas where he is uncomfortable or out of place are designed with fonts deliberately non-evocative of the Wild West or anything typically related to him.

Craig Foster (Graphics Art Director) presents “It’s All in the Details” to press on April 3, 2019. Photo by Marc Flores. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

References to past films included in the Antique Store serve not only as fun Easter Eggs, but to give viewers a sense of nostalgia and authenticity — the idea that they may recognize or already have some of the items for sale. A record on a Victrola with a Chalupa Records label from “Coco;” paintings of the dogs from “Up;” and a Keane-inspired painting of Angel Kitty are some examples.

The final panel, looking at the process of creating the new locations for “Toy Story 4,” was “Outside Of The (Toy) Box.”

Stephen Karski (Sets Supervisor) as seen on the Toy Story 4 Long Lead Press Day, on April 4, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. Photo by Marc Flores. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

In the Antique Store, objects had to be scaled appropriately both for the human vantage and the toy perspective. Art Deco was chosen for the time period of the store’s design.

Sets Technical Director Rosie Cole as seen on the Toy Story 4 Long Lead Press Day, on April 3, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Different groupings of objects within the store result in various neighborhoods such as “Shabby Chic” and “The Gabnet” (where Gabby Gabby lives), which all had to be dressed to look like separate areas with consistent themes.

Sets Supervisor Thomas Jordan as seen on the Toy Story 4 Long Lead Press Day, on April 4, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. Photo by Marc Flores. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Small details were particularly important in “Toy Story 4,” as the camera gets much closer to objects from a toy’s gaze than a human’s. To place things like cobwebs quickly and realistically, a spider AI program was written to simulate spinning webs when they needed them to cover large areas. Story-wise, they indicate areas where people don’t go, and where toys can be safe.

FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES — In Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” the toys find themselves in the dusty shadows of Second Chance Antiques—a massive set that had to be stocked with thousands of objects, creating nooks and crannies that serve as the toys’ secret corridors.  ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Over in the Carnival, various details that needed to be examined include how the booths are connected to the ground; what kinds of materials are used on the booths’ draping; and what the bases of the garbage cans look like. The differences of lighting in the colorfully vibrant carnival required thought on what sorts of lightbulbs were used, where, how fast they blink, and in what colors. Even the rides were placed strategically to look well next to each other, and to make sense from a crowd flow standpoint.

The Toy Story 4 art gallery, as seen on March 18, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

We’ll have more from the early press day, and on the film itself in the coming weeks. “Toy Story 4” comes to US theaters on June 21, 2019 — tickets are on sale now!

Fans can catch Woody and the gang a day before “Toy Story 4” officially opens with two special opportunities taking place in select theaters across the country. Check Fandango.com for more information and to find participating theaters:

  • Opening Night Fan Events will invite fans to be among the first to experience the movie on Thursday, June 20. In addition to watching the film early, attendees will receive a set of “Toy Story 4” collectible character cards and get a special event-only concession offer.
  • “Toy Story 4” Movie Marathons take movie-goers on a “Toy Story” extravaganza on Thursday, June 20, showing all four “Toy Story” films back to back. In addition to seeing Buzz, Woody and all their Toy Story friends on the big screen, fans will receive an exclusive Woody pin, a set of collectible character cards and get a special event-only concession offer.

Take a look at the teaser trailer for the film below:

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Jeanine resides in Southern California, pursuing the sort of lifestyle that makes her the envy of every 11-year-old she meets. She has been to every Disney theme park in the world and while she finds Tokyo DisneySea the Fairest Of Them All, Disneyland is her Home Park... and there is no place like home.

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